LONDON -- BMW's Mini brand plans to introduce a concept at the Frankfurt auto show that previews a full-electric hatchback due in 2019.
The Mini Electric Concept brings the UK marque's "iconic design and customary go-kart feeling" into the electric mobility age, Mini said in a statement on Wednesday.
The concept updates the three-door Mini model currently in production to better show off how the car might look designed for an electric powertrain.
The car combines aerodynamic features designed to minimize drag and increase range with more familiar design elements that point to a sporty drive. The reduced need for cooling allowed Mini to close off the grille for better aerodynamic performance, but the car keeps the grille’s familiar hexagonal shape to ensure it remains recognizable as a Mini.
Other body elements such as the closed-off air intakes ahead of the front wheels and the side skirts are also designed to retain a sporty look while minimizing drag. Body parts additional to the standard body structure are mostly made from fiberglass with some constructed using a 3D printing process. Mini says using this method allows small-run production of bespoke parts.
The production EV will be built at Mini's plant in Oxford, England, using a drivetrain supplied from Germany. No details have been given of the electric powertrain, but Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member responsible for Mini, said last year that the car will come with next-generation batteries small enough to fit into a Mini without compromising range.
The car will be Mini's second electrified vehicle after the brand launched a plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman small crossover earlier this year.
The Mini EV will arrive 11 years after the brand conducted extensive trials involving 600 electric Mini E hatchbacks.